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Five-year-old Gunner McCoy Spain
Five-Year Old TSMAA Student Attends Muay Thai Seminar
Five-year-old Gunner McCoy Spain is a student under Sifu Jeff Jones at Tri-State Martial Arts Academy in Langhorne, PA. At four-years old, Gunner became interested in the martial arts after watching Bruce Lee movies and getting introduced to boxing from his father Bob Spain, who is a former fighter. The Spain’s searched for several months for a school for their son and couldn’t quite find what they were looking for. In the meantime, Spain starting training Gunner in their garage and one day, they were in Langhorne Square Shopping Center and saw a sign: “coming soon, Tri-State Martial Arts Academy”. Bob and Susan Spain brought Gunner in as soon as the school opened its doors and were excited that they accepted students at age five.
Gunner is six-years-old now and has been attending classes regularly. Six months into his training, he wanted to attend more than twice a week. His parents asked Sifu Jeff Jones, a full instructor under Ajarn Chai, if he could participate in the grappling program at the school. Usually children have to be age seven through fourteen to attend but Jones felt that Gunner was doing very well and proved that he was focused, and determined, and allowed him to participate. He is currently the smallest child in his class but one of the toughest too.
World renowned Sirsute Ajarn Chai, held a two-day seminar at Tri-State Martial Arts Academy, Langhorne, PA in November 2007. It’s a great deal to ask of a five-year-old, but he decided he wanted to attend the seminar. The day before the seminar, Gunner had participated in a grappler’s quest. So, not knowing what to expect, he started out tired. He had fun but it was a lot of work both mentally and physically. Gunner was the youngest child attending and Ajarn Chai spent a lot of time with him which was intimidating for him. Of course, he had no idea who Ajarn Chai was, or the magnitude of his talent and background. Ajarn Chai did not go easy on him, but Gunner held his own throughout the two-day event. Gunner says the foot jabs on the heavy bag and holding the correct form for as long as he could was the most difficult drill. What he does remember from that seminar was that Ajarn Chai reprimanded him and another student and made them each do fifty pushups. That made him very nervous and visibly upset. After the seminar, dad and son went home and looked Ajarn up on the intranet and that’s when they realized the full extent of his talent and credentials.
The Spain family recently took Gunner to his second seminar with Ajarn Chai in Maryland in April. Knowing this seminar was going to be two full days, Gunner spent a lot of time getting prepared and training hard. Ajarn spent time with him and at one point threatened him with a tack under his foot if he didn’t keep it up. That was enough to ensure he would keep up with the exercises. Once again, Gunner was the only child in attendance. Ajarn took an interest in Gunner and asked to hold focus gloves for him. This is when Gunner received his first punch in the nose, something he won’t soon forget!
Ajarn Chai gave Gunner his first pair of Thai shorts which he signed, they are now framed and hanging with other pictures, posters and a medal he won at a Grapplers Quest. Mr Spain finished the garage and this is where father and son workout, train and display their treasures and awards.
Gunner says when he gets older, he wants to get a black belt and become the very best, a champion Muay Thai fighter. He wants to do that by “never giving up”, continuing his training and attending as many seminars as possible. His parents say that he is very focused and determined, not only his training in MMA, but in everything he does. They say he works hard until he masters whatever it is he wants to do. Gunner’s other interests include drawing and arts and crafts. His talent won him the honor of being the only kindergarten student in his school to have his work displayed in the middle school of the Neshaminy School District.
Gunner thinks Sifu Jeff is kind and generous and he respects him highly. He enjoys everything about the school, including Sifu, the other instructors, and the many friends he has made there. He says Sifu always makes the kids feel very special and he feels honored when he gives him extra attention to help him advance in his training. Recently, Jones talked about a very special patch, one that signifies leadership and that he had only ever given out one of those. When the class was over Gunner said to his parents that “I’m going to get that patch!” Knowing our son and his determination, he will, says Bob Spain.
The Spain’s have noticed a difference in their son since he’s attended TSMAA. They say that they have taught their son right from wrong but the school experience, the discipline and respect, the teaching and the structure of the program has enabled Gunner to become an even more caring and focused young man.
Tri-State Martial Arts Academy offers children’s programs for 5-8 year-olds and 9-14 year-olds as well as the adult programs.
Tri-State Martial Arts Academy